Author: uk-business-traveller

What’s in my wallet?

A round-up of the cards and statuses that I’m currently holding, along with what I’m building towards achieving or retaining.

  1. Hilton Honors Diamond Status – achieved by a status match from my IHG Platinum Status. This gives me free breakfast, guaranteed access to the Executive Lounge, 50% bonus points, and space-available upgrades to better rooms, including suites.
  2. IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card. This is my go-to non-American Express credit card. I get a substantial amount of value from the points it earns, especially the bonus points for overseas spend.
  3. IHG Spire Elite Status. IHG Spire Elite is my other main hotel status that I make regular use of. It’s not as valuable as Hilton Diamond Status, but does have bonus point offers and occasional upgrades – far fewer than Hilton, however. It does not come with free breakfast, nor any guaranteed executive lounge access.
  4. American Express Platinum Card. The benefits of this card as so many and varied, that it’s impossible to list them all here. It is very expensive, at £450 per year, but the benefits do mean it makes sense for me.
  5. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card. This is a card I opened primarily for the 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points that I will earn after spending £2000 in the first three months. It has some of the benefits of the American Express Platinum, but it’s not an adequate replacement for them.
  6. Eurostar Carte Blanche status. I earned this status the hard way, by travelling from London to Brussels for seven or eight weeks in 2017. The card gives access to the business class security lane, and the business class lounge, regardless of the class of service. The security lane access is particularly valuable, as it reduces the minimum Eurostar pre-departure check-in time from thirty minutes to just 10 minutes.
  7. Priority Pass. This comes as part of the American Express Platinum Card, and is one of the major benefits for me. It gives access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world, and has massively improved the time I spend in airports, especially when flights get delayed. The Platinum Card Priority Pass gives unlimited free entry to the cardholder and a guest. By using the Platinum Supplementary Card (which is free) I get another Priority Pass in my wife’s name so that we can take a family of four in to the lounge for free. At around £25 per person per entry, that’s a substantial benefit!
  8. Easyjet Flight Club. This is another status, like Eurostar Carte Blanche, that I earned “the hard way” – i.e., by travelling a lot. I think I did 20 Easyjet flights within a year and then I was notified I would be eligible for Flight Club. Curiously, however, I am yet to use any of its benefits. Personally I would prefer Easyjet replace Flight Club with a free or discounted Easyjet Plus Card.
  9. American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card. I opened this card in order to benefit from the 10,000 bonus SPG points after spending £1000 in the first three months. I doubt I will keep this card open past its 1 year anniversary, as it gives no benefits that I don’t get from other cards.
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Mattress Running

A Mattress Run is a way to maximise a hotel chain’s special offers, achieve a status match, or maintain existing status. This post is a short explanation of how you can use a Mattress Run to your benefit.

Hotel chains typically measure your use of their loyalty programmes in three ways:

  1. Nights: This is how many nights you spend at the hotel, whether in a single stay or multiple stays. For example, Hilton Honors requires 60 nights in order to achieve Hilton Honors Diamond Status.
  2. Stays: This is how many times you check-in to a hotel, regardless of the number of nights you actually stay. Hilton Honors requires 30 stays in order to achieve Hilton Honors Diamond Status.
  3. Points: How many points (usually base points, not bonus points) you earn. Hilton Honours requires 120,000 base points for Diamond status.

It may already be clear that there are some things above that we can work to our advantage. Let’s assume that I need 5 stays in order to achieve a Hilton Honors Points Unlimited Bonus of 10,000 points. Let’s further assume I have two trips of 3 days length coming up in each of the next two weeks. If I make two bookings at Hilton.com, once they are complete I will have 2 stays towards my target of 5 stays. That is great, but I still need to make three more trips in order to hit my target. However, if I am able to split each trip down and stay 1 night at the first hotel, and 2 nights at another hotel I will ultimately end up with 4 stays compared to the original 2 stays.

Note that it is easiest to do this when you have two or more hotels within your destination. Simply making multiple 1-night bookings at the same hotel may not give you the separate stays that are required.

So, the next time you are trying to earn or maintain status, or hit a bonus target, remember to consider a mattress run!

Achieving Hilton Honors Diamond Membership with a Status Match

Back in early 2017 I registered for a status match with Hilton Honors. At the time I had IHG Platinum status, via the IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card.

Hilton accepted my evidence of IHG status, which was an image of my IHG membership card and a receipt from a recent stay. They then gave me a status challenge: 4-7 stays within 90 days to achieve Hilton Gold status, and 8 stays within the same period to achieve Hilton Diamond status. As I was on a sequence of business trips to Brussels at the time, I was able to achieve the status challenge in just under two months – albeit with a little bit of mattress running to maximise my stays.

Ultimately my status was valid until March 2019, a full two years of Diamond status in exchange for 8 stays within three months. Quite an achievement!

How I earned 45,000 Hilton points in only 8 weeks

In the last 8 weeks I earned over 45,000 Hilton Honors points. Here is how I did it:

1. Register for the Hilton Points Unlimited Bonus offer. This bonus offer gives 2000 points per qualifying Stay at any Hilton property.

2. Be a Hilton Diamond Member. This gives a Diamond 50% Bonus on all Base Points earned. So if your stay earns you 8,000 HH Points, you will receive another 4,000 points on top, for a total of 12,000 Hilton Honours Points. Read this article on how you can get a status match to Hilton Honors Diamond. Diamond Members also receive 1000 Hilton MyWay bonus points per stay at some Hilton properties .

3. Receive another 10,000 HH points for every five stays you make between now and April 30, 2018. I achieved this once so far in the period, but I may hit it again, looking at my schedule.

My trips over the last 8 weeks netted me:

17-18 Jan
Base Points: 961
50% Diamond Bonus Points: 480
Hilton Points Unlimited: 2000
Total Points: 3441

04-05 Feb
Base Points: 3254
Diamond MyWay Bonus Points: 1000
50% Diamond Bonus Points: 1627
Hilton Points Unlimited: 2000
Total Points: 7881

26-28 Feb
Base Points: 5411
Diamond MyWay Bonus Points: 1000
50% Diamond Bonus Points: 2705
Hilton Points Unlimited: 2000
Total Points: 11,116

12-13 Mar
Base Points: 1239
50% Diamond Bonus Points: 619
Hilton Points Unlimited: 2000
Total Points: 3858

13-15 Mar
Base Points: 4222
Diamond MyWay Bonus Points: 1000
50% Diamond Bonus Points: 2111
Hilton Points Unlimited: 2000
Total Points: 9333

16 Mar

Hilton Points Unlimited: 10,000

Total Points: 45,629.

IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card offers free upgrades, welcome gifts, and a free night voucher after spending £10,000.  If you want to find out about its best features, read on.

When I began traveling, the first card I signed up for was the IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card, offered by Creation Financial Services.  I was looking for a card that would give me the opportunity to earn a good number of points, and ideally give me a decent elite status with the hotel so that I could get some extra benefits. 

Benefits

The IHG Premium card fitted the bill, and offers numerous benefits, including:

  • A bonus of 20,000 IHG Rewards Club hotel points when you spend £200 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Earn 2 points for every £1 of UK spend, and 4 points for every £1 either overseas and 4 points per £1 at an IHG hotel.
  • A Free Night voucher for any IHG hotel when you spend at least £10,000 in a year.
  • IHG Platinum Elite status for the lifetime of the card.

The free night voucher, and the IHG Platinum Elite status, were the prime reasons for signing up.  The free night voucher can be used even in top IHG locations such as the Intercontinental Hong Kong, where a night costs £250-300 even when booked in advance.  Therefore, the voucher is quite valuable.

IHG Platinum Elite Status

The IHG Platinum Elite status is also very useful.  It is the second highest status in IHG’s programme, and it gives priority check-in, 50% bonus on base points, guaranteed room availability, and complimentary room upgrades.  This final benefit allows me to book a lower class of room, which helps with getting my expenses approved.

The card has a £99 annual fee, although this is offset by the free night voucher and the welcome points.  The 20,000 point bonus would get you a night at the Heathrow Crowne Plaza, useful if you needed to get an early start on a flight.

My experience with this card has been very good.  The points add up quickly, especially if you’re spending overseas and can pass the 2.99% foreign currency charge on as an expense.  Or if you’re staying at IHG properties and paying with the card.  Five months in to my ownership of the card, I only require another £2000 of spend before I can trigger the free night voucher.

On the two occasions since that I’ve booked IHG properties, I’ve received a room upgrade, and on one occasion a welcome gift of 500 extra points and a dessert, delivered to my room by a very friendly waiter.

Hilton Platinum Status Match Challenge

Finally, the IHG Platinum Elite status allowed me to request a Status Match to Hilton Honors, which is the subject of a forthcoming post.

In summary, the sign-up bonus, free night voucher, IHG Platinum Elite status and good points earning potential make the IHG® Rewards Club Premium Credit Card an excellent choice if you’re heading off on travels for work, and to get some benefit from your hard miles!

“I have a number in mind…”

“I have a number in mind…”

Maybe not quite ten million miles, but the points and miles keep me going as I zig-zag across Europe and the world as a technical consultant.

This blog is about my trips, the strategies that I use to maximise my airline miles, Avios, hotel points and credit card rewards, and hints and tips from a frequent business traveler.